PART 1 in the Valley REN blog series introducing “innovation agents” agents in the Annapolis Valley.
The Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce will present the annual Agriculture Innovation Accelerator Award on November 28. The Valley REN interviewed the chair of the AVCC Agriculture & Agri-Food Committee, Gary Morton, to ask him how this award, now in its fifth year, is advancing innovation in agriculture.
Why did the AVCC Ag Committee create the Agriculture Innovation Accelerator Award?
The Chamber is a champion for innovation in agriculture, because we see it as one of those things that we can have an impact on. We’re trying to make a difference in agriculture, because it has such an impact on this region.
We have a unique outlook on agriculture in the Annapolis Valley. Our community is compact and there is a great deal of diversity. This diversity (in a small region) is unique in Canada.
We know we need to be innovative. It’s more challenging to compete when you have a smaller scale of production. Through value-add, businesses can create opportunities that they wouldn’t otherwise have.
What do you mean by “innovation”?
Sometimes you hear “disruption” and “innovation” linked together. I would say that all disruptions are innovations, but not all innovations would be disruptions.
I would say innovation is (what makes it) possible to add more value to the farm-gate value, to put more money into the farmer’s pocket. If I get $5 per pound for a commodity, how do I get $7, how do I get $8?
It’s looking at the opportunities that are out there – figuring out what the market wants and producing it.
How do businesses benefit?
This is a significant award for one company. They can use the cash and services for a down-payment for a loan, to leverage R&D and to access consulting resources.
The award also helps all the applicants – not just the winners. It helps put your idea out there. It also puts you on the radar on the other side, so other businesses (and business support staff) can see how they can help you. And it helps you practice making a pitch and competing.
This is the 5th year for the award. What impact have you seen?
I think the award is helping to keep innovation in agriculture on the map and in front of people.
We (the AVCC) have been able to pull together a team (of volunteer organizers, supporters and sponsors) that represents most of the stakeholders in agriculture, including industry, the financial sector, government, and Chamber members. It kind of ties the community together.
The 2017 award winner will be announced on November 28 at a supper and ceremony starting at 6pm at the Berwick Lions Hall.
2016 TapRoot Fibre Lab
2015 Frostbyte Interactive Inc. (Aerhyve division)
2014 Hillcreek Family Farm
2013 Harvest Hand New Media Communities
As an economic development officer and research analyst with the Valley REN, Rachel Brighton brings 25 years’ experience as a journalist, editor, publisher, manager, consultant and not-for-profit director in Canada and Australia.